Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thinkin' 'bout Tom

When Aurora was not quite three years old, she and I took a trip to Amherst for a college reunion. While we were in the area, we had to stop by and visit my friend, Tom White. A potter's potter, Tom makes the most amazing pots... simple, subtle but very strong. This little espresso cup was just the right size for Aurora's hands. As soon as Tom put it into Aurora's hands, she knew immediately that it was her's. She was so protective of it. No more plastic sippy cups for her.

While Tom and I visited a bit, Aurora made her way around the studio. Yes, we are still talking about a kid who wasn't three yet. Yeah, I know... who let's a toddler roam around a room full of sharp tools and clay and bone dry pots? Other potters, that's who.

Aurora found a box on the floor with a light just barely inside it. As she got closer she could hear chirping coming from inside the box. Turned out to be a box full of pheasant chicks. Tom has always been an avid hunter and leads hunts throughout the fall. Most years he raises quite a few pheasants. Tom reached into the box, and handed a tiny pheasant chick to Aurora. I just watched that kid melt. She was so happy. She may be twelve years older now, but she still remembers that day fondly.

This teabowl was my reward for helping Tom with one of his studio sales back when I was in college. Tom was throwing exclusively porcelain back then and creating some of the most stunning copper red glazes I had ever seen. I wanted to make reds like what Tom was able to achieve. He and I sat and talked about glaze ad nauseum when I was working with him. He added apple woodash to some of his glazes to get them to be more active. Amazing combinations of color and texture. To this day, I think his reds are some of my absolute favorite pots.

So why am I thinking about Tom today? I came across a postcard of a show he did in Northampton a few years back. It was such a surprise to me to see him making stoneware pots again. Just holding the postcard in my hand took me back to his studio, the woodfire going during all but the hottest months of summer. His house nestled in the woods. Dinner being offered some nights... and the always present wickedly seared meat. Having been a vegetarian for the previous three years, it took one week at Tom's before I succumbed to the smells of roasting venison (and elk steaks!). To this day, when I think of my favorite meals, quite of few of them happened while sitting around Tom's table, talking pots and grad school and potters. That is why Tom was on my mind this morning.


Linda Starr said...

Great story about the pheasants and I love that red cup.

alexander solla said...

Tom used to make the most wicked copper reds. He was my major inspiration for what later became my undergrad thesis. Only wish I had MORE of his copper red pots!